As Boys Grow
- Publication date
- Public Domain
- Digitizing sponsor
Sex education film geared for teenage boys. Deals with sexual organs, masturbation, wet dreams, and other male issues. The coach is the authority figure and teacher.
Prior to the period of frankness that began in the mid-1960s, relatively few sex education films were actually produced in the United States. Most of these films concentrated on the physiology of sex and reproduction and were replete with animated "plumbing" diagrams. It was unusual to show children speaking relatively freely about sexuality, and because of the necessity of educating girls about menstruation, more addressed girls than boys. As Boys Grow, produced in the relatively liberal San Francisco Bay Area, presents regular boys asking regular questions and contains frank discussion of such topics as nocturnal emissions.
Unlike Molly Grows Up, staged in the midst of the nuclear family, As Boys Grow shows sex education for boys as a team effort supervised by a fatherly coach figure. Although it might not seem unusual today, the achievement of this film seems to me to be the way that it naturalizes sexuality and creates an open atmosphere where all questions, no matter how misguided, draw serious adult attention. The gym was safe territory for sexual discussions and the coach a noncontroversial facilitator. And the boys seem to speak very openly:
"Say, you know something?"
"I had a wet dream last night."
"Wet dream? What's that?"
"Oh, you know, when sperm comes out of your penis."
"Yeah. Sort of a sticky stuff...."
Apparently the gym is a safer place for sexual discussion than within the family, and we get a strong sense that Fifties men were supposed to learn about sex in and around the gym while Fifties women worked it out with their mothers. One boy, in fact, says his father "never says much about anything" relating to sex. One might read this film as a tacit admission that the family can't take care of all its members' needs Ñ that children sometimes need to go beyond their parents for grounding in certain complex areas. This admission would make the film a radical statement for the Fifties.
As Boys Grow also differs from other sex ed films (and most strongly from those directed at girls) by admitting specifically that sex is linked with pleasure. It speaks explicitly of sexual excitement, of erections and the "hard penis"; and addresses male masturbation without mystery. While girls' films (like Molly Grows Up) focus on menstruation to the exclusion of sexual pleasure and speak of coping with the physical preconditions of gender rather than coming to terms with desire, As Boys Grow admits the existence of pleasure and its gratification. Following the liberal line that was emerging at the time, Coach states "Sometimes you hear that masturbation affects your mind or your manhood. It isn't true. For kids your age, it's just...something normal."
If you believe in symbolism, the girls get to act out a little at the end of he movie. Two of the boys ask two girls out on a swimming date. Standing on the dock, one boy pushes a girl into the water. The second girl pushes the boy in after the first girl, stands triumphantly on the dock for just a moment, and then jumps in herself.
- Closed captioning
- United States
- Run time
Subject: What Some of Those Boys Are Really Thinking
My friend Joe told me that those ...what are they? tes-ti...cles?..yeah..he told me those were depth regulators having to do with having to take a pee (true story here).
"I had a wet dream last night."
Who the hell would say that to someone? It's like saying "I just murdered 3 people and buried their bodies in the desert. Wanna see the video?" You just don't say that to people.
Subject: DEFINITELY progessive for 1957!
When they said PENIS....I knew the ref from the coach (no pun intended..ref,coach) was coming..but NOT my laughing OUT LOUD!
Subject: Informative and well done
Subject: Amazingly Frank, sadly even for today
It's sad how things have regressed IMO. Didn't one of Clinton's Surgeon Generals have to resign because in the wake of AIDS she suggested masturbation was safer? That's sad. Really sad. But then teachers in some schools in my state were forced by law to put stickers on science books stating that evolution was just a theory. How we seem to have stepped back in time. Bet our parents never thought America would be more uptight in 2010 than it was in this honest, very innocent film. PS: But Why WAS 'Coach' just carrying around charts of the female reproductive system at 'just the right moment?" Hmmm... (LOL)
Subject: Lost in the Fifties
All that having been said, for years I was haunted with the fear of blindness or mental incapacity due to frequent masturbation. That fear and other phobias based on my sexuality could have been prevented from ever occurring had open discussions about male/female sexuality been permitted in public schools of that era.
Subject: Bump In The Night!
Subject: Better Sex Ed Through Unintentional Humor
It is absolutely factual and accurate, not vague, evasive or preachy. Conspicuous in its absence, of course, is any mention of even the existence of birth control or sexually transmitted disease thereby sparing the audience the usual brain dead make believe about abstinence.
Instead, it hammers home two points which really should be stressed: theres no set timetable for puberty, and theres no normal body type.
The missing birth control and STD components aside, this would be an effective sex education tool in schools today. I dont mean a film like this, I mean this film. Think about it. Instead of being put to sleep, students would be busting up laughing at it meanwhile the accurate information would fly in under the radar.
Subject: Interesting To Note
In this day and age, knowing what we now know about people who's professions bring them into close contact with children, this film would more than likely still remain the most trusted source of carnal knowledge.
Subject: Never had the movie, just a book
Subject: Time..keeps flowing like a river
The teacher is strange. But then again so were these films!
5/5 for laughter and listening with friends while doing an MST3K style review.
Subject: Was I ever that young and innocent?
I wish they had used this film for "sex ed" when I was in school. It would have certainly cleared up a few things when I was that age. We got the egg-fertilization-with-incomprehensible-diagram class (what? mention masturbation in a Texas school, are you crazy?). Like the diagrams in this film, but without the clear, concise explanation. Based on those, I ended up with the conviction that women had their ovaries outside their bodies, like testicles, only higher. That's probably why I went gay, actually. That and the fact that I was ridiculed mercilessly because I had a full chest-full of hair and all the related pubescent accoutrement at age 12, which made me a freak to all the other 12 year old boys (I was an early bloomer - bald spot started at 14, too). But enough about my puberty...
Can you imagine what would happen in today's schools to the teacher who showed this film to a class without showing it to every child's parents beforehand and getting written authorizations, notorized and filed with the state first? I can hear the storms of controversy now - "You told my kid WHAT??? I'll sue this school for every penny it's got!!" "What's the idea of telling my boy that masturbation is normal, you pervert?"
Did I mention that prolonged exposure to humans has made me cynical? I've noticed that they have that effect on people.
Subject: Pretty progressive
Subject: Boys have penis's
Subject: As Boys Grow
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Subject: Gee Coach!
By that age they should have been wacking off to their mom's fashion mags for at least 2 years!
I was waiting for Coach to whip it out and demonstrate, now that would have been educational!
"C'mon boys, let's all stand in a circle and see who can elaculate first!"
Subject: Extremely liberal for the time period
Instead the video is surprisingly honest and informative. Presentation is straightforward, and it addresses taboo topics such as masturbation in a positive light -- a topic on which a US surgeon general lost her job in the mid 1990's when she commented upon it and a topic not even mentioned when I had sex eduation in the early 90's.
It loses a star because the boys are simply too naive for their ages (12-15 or so), some of the conversations sound stilted, nd because, at times, the coach DOES seem a little too chummy with the boys. All in all though an excellent ephemeral film for downloading. Even modern sex education could certainly borrow a page from its book.
Subject: Straight talk about sex
Subject: very open and honest for its time
Subject: Yeah, but why?